At long last, Bjork lights the lamp
The waiting game paid off for
After missing most of training camp recovering from shoulder surgery, which he had midway through last season, the Bruins winger had to catch up.
He was rewarded for his efforts with a goal in yesterday’s 8-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings, his first since Dec. 7. He didn’t play in the season opener against Washington but has seen time in each of the past four games, all wins.
It was a special moment for Bjork and also for a Bruins brass that wasn’t sure what they were going to get from him this season.
“It’s great for him because it’s been a long time coming,” coach
Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s worked to be in the lineup. We didn’t talk a lot about him in August. We weren’t sure when he’d be in. He kind of pushed himself into the lineup.”
Bjork didn’t play until the final preseason game, and though he wasn’t in the opening night lineup, he forced the Bruins to give him an opportunity.
Yesterday, he was part of an offensive onslaught against the winless Red Wings. He was joined in the goals column by David Pastrnak (three), Jake DeBrusk (two), Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly. Watching all those goals was further motivation to get involved.
“I think it gets me excited, and I think it gets everyone excited,” Bjork said. “Those are some of my closer friends, too, not just teammates. It pushes me for sure to get in on the action.”
Bjork had some close calls in his first three games, but he didn’t break the ice until yesterday, and he even earned some time on the power play. He was brimming with confidence in the locker room.
“I think it’s big,” said Bjork, who played with Ryan Donato and center David Backes. “Hopefully it’s big for our line, too. I think that was our first 5-on-5 goal, so we can get things going a bit. It’s something that you’re thinking about, and once you get the first one, you can relax a little bit.”
Bjork played 14:33, the fifthmost among B’s forwards. Some of that came on the man-advantage, but he’s started to gain the coaching staff’s trust in various situations.
Bjork didn’t fall off the radar in the offseason, but he turned enough heads in camp to be more of a consideration for the lineup.
Performances like yesterday are helpful going forward.
“That’s why you don’t pick your team in July sometimes,” Cassidy said. “You just let it develop.”
DeBrusk pitches in
Like Bjork, DeBrusk’s hard work finally was rewarded. The winger had a strong game on his off wing Thursday night, and he carried that momentum into yesterday’s game.
He potted his first two goals of the season, which was good timing for a young player who was searching for his game.
“If it drags on, you start overthinking it,” Cassidy said. “I think Jake was getting close. He could have had three or four tonight.”
Pastrnak’s breakout season is impressing more than just the forwards and coaching staff.
From across the ice, goalie Tuukka Rask noticed the first goal, saying, “Just, wow.”
The netminder also had some analysis for what makes No. 88 so difficult to stop.
“He’s kind of sneaky, just the way he gets the puck and winds up,” Rask said. “You don’t think too much of it, but then he picks up speed across the red line and the (defense) gets caught standing still just a little bit, and (the) next thing you know (it’s a goal.)”